David Prosser: Canada embraces protectionism
Friday 05 November 2010
Outlook If only Britain had more Canadian instincts. That presumably is the feeling in Bournville – six months after Cadbury was sold to Kraft, despite a vociferous campaign to keep it British, people will have noticed that the Anglo-Australian mining company, BHP Billiton, has just been told it will not be allowed to buy Potash, the giant Canadian fertiliser business.
It's difficult to accept that the Canadians have taken this decision for anything other than political reasons. A Cadbury-style campaign against BHP has been waged in Potash's home state of Saskatchewan, and then whipped up at national level too.
Note that, in the past four decades, Canada has rejected an overseas bidder in this way on just one occasion, and that was on the grounds of national security.
This is the sort of protectionism that bodies such as the IMF and the World Bank have in recent months have been urging countries to avoid. But the fact that the Canadians have made a mistake that is potentially damaging to global trade will not preventwistful Cadbury lovers from looking on with envy.
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